Movie Title: Inside Llewyn Davis
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 44 min.
Who did I watch with?: Stephie
Where did I watch it?: Home
Llewyn Davis is an asshole. In every interaction he undertakes he chooses the worst possible response. He has his back against the wall. His dreams of being a successful folk musician are not coming to fruition. He just put out a solo record after the suicide of his partner that is not selling. He is self destructive and he is broke. He travels from couch to couch and relies heavily on the mercy of others. He passes on opportunities that could lead to success. I think the Coen brothers intended for this to make him a more tolerable character despite him being rather prickly, but it doesn’t work particularly well. People only tolerate him because of the death of his partner and no one likes him. Oscar Isaac plays the role well, but I think the character was written in a way that was too unlikable. I didn’t ultimately care about his failure, which I think I was supposed to.
The next problem would be that none of the other characters are really likable either. We get introduced to a host of them as Davis drifts around New York. Davis crashes with folk singer friends Jenny (Carey Mulligan) and Jim (Justin Timberlake) who find him work and give him a place to stay. In turn he knocks up Jenny and needs to take her for an abortion. Mitch Gorfein (Ethan Phillips) and Lillian Gorfein (Robin Bartlett) are college professors who keep Davis around as a show piece for their upper west side life. After wearing out his welcome in New York, Davis decides to go to Chicago and ends up with Roland Turner (John Goodman) and Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) car pooling together. Turner is like a grown up version of Davis and every word Five utters is nearly incomprehensible. None of these people that rotate through Davis’s life are likeable either. They are all nauseating in their own way.
There is also a huge subplot involving a cat that is symbolically important. I was hoping the music would be more central to the story, but it really isn’t very important. The story could have been set in a myriad of different times and places and still be told in a similar way. For some reason the movie loops back to the beginning at the end and shows Davis passing by and judging Bob Dylan. Davis is a failure and I think that is the point. We are watching his self destruction. It just isn’t very pleasant to watch.
This movie is very dark both literally and figuratively and lacks the levity of many Coen brothers’ movies. If you’re prepared to be depressed and hate everyone it is well made. When thinking about it afterwards I realized that I think we might all know our own personal Llewyn Davis and that makes it worth watching to me. See it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)